Constitution

Officially, the United States’ federal budget deficit for 2011 will be roughly $1.3 trillion, a staggering and almost incomprehensible amount of money. But this doesn’t even come close to the actual shortfall faced by the Treasury this year. “The $1.3 trillion budget deficit would be $4.2 trillion if the change in the current cost of Social Security and Medicare promises during fiscal 2011 were included,” according to a Washington Post op-ed by Bryan R. Lawrence, founder of New York-based investment partnership Oakcliff Capital.

On Wednesday U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon (left) ruled in favor of five tobacco companies protesting requirements by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to have them put on their cigarette packs graphic images of the consequences of smoking.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is not afraid of congressional oversight into its domestic spying program.

Last week, DHS Chief Privacy Officer Mary Ellen Callahan and Director of Operations Coordination and Planning Richard Chavez testified before the House Subcommittee on Counterintelligence and Intelligence, and their testimony was alarming to those concerned about the near constant assault by the federal government on the Constitution and the Fourth Amendment in particular.

A bill has just passed the House and the Senate that criminalizes protests anywhere near the presence of a designated government official. On Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted nearly unanimously (388-3) in favor of H.R. 347, the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011.

Film star Wesley Snipes (One Night Stand, Blade) is scheduled for release from federal prison on July 19, 2013, 31 months after being incarcerated for failure to file his income-tax returns.

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